Gimme Gimme (click to comment)


I like stuff. Always have. As a child, I spent much of the winter curled up on the heat vent, drooling through the toy section in the Sears catalog. In fourth grade my parents bought me the grooviest pair of flared pants I had ever seen. They were purple with vertical stripes. The stripes were bright orange. I was the envy of every kid at school. Until Stan Kirk showed up with bigger flairs and brighter stripes. I was raised below what our government deems the ‘poverty line’, and I didn’t like it. At a young age I took to stealing, hoping to enjoy the same candies I saw my friends eating. One day in Sunday School, I invited David Porr to my birthday party, with one condition: that he give me his offering money right then and there. I am not proud of this. Just thankful David is still my friend.

I give thanks for a happy and uncluttered childhood, but I do not travel the world talking about the benefits of poverty or the merits of theft in Sunday School. At the same time, I have discovered that one of the quickest ways to speed up our world is to crowd it with stuff. And we’re doing it at an alarming rate.

North Americans consume twice as many goods and services per person as we did at the end of World War II. We buy twice as many cars, appliances and cheeseburgers. Our houses are three times the size, and we work harder than ever to fill them with stuff. In an act of rebellion my wife and I have taken up ‘non-shopping.’ The rules are simple. We leave our wallets behind and stroll through shopping malls counting all the things we do not need. We’ve found bacon flavoured toothpaste, metal detecting sandals and a baseball bat that doubles as a pepper grinder. We did not buy these things, but we do have what you can’t sell. We have each other and the wisdom to know that real satisfaction doesn’t come from things, but from relationships—with God first, the others follow.

How about you? Are you chasing after stuff? Do you measure your value by the model of you car, the size your house and the things you fill it with? As I read through the gospels, I’m astounded at how frequently Jesus talks about wealth and possessions. He has some great things to say about them and some warnings as well. In Luke 12:15 he cautions us, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

So get rid of your junk. Help someone in need. Buy less. Love more. Go non-shopping with your spouse, or take a child. Just make sure it’s your child. And leave a comment below. What steps have you taken to ‘declutter’ your life? We’d love to hear from you.

Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway, the host of Laugh Again, is an award-winning author and speaker, known worldwide for his humorous yet perceptive look at life.

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